Retired Marine Master Sgt. William H. Cox and Retired Marine First Sgt. James ‘Hollie’ Hollingsworth were only young men when they joined the Marines and reported for the Vietnam War. They lost plenty of friends and fellow servicemen during the war. But in the midst of all that chaos, the two agreed to a pact that they kept going for the next 50 years — even after death.
Cox and Hollingsworth were strangers when they met fighting side by side in the same bunker on Marble Mountain.
As bullets and explosions rained down around them on New Year’s Eve, the two agreed that every New Year’s Eve after that they would make sure to contact each other if they survived this battle.
After surviving the night, Cox and Hollingsworth returned home and went their separate ways. Even though the two were thousands of miles apart, nothing stopped them from keeping the promise they made in that bunker.
For the next 50 years, Cox and Hollingsworth would stay in contact. Even at the young age of 83, Cox went to South Carolina to visit his friend Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth’s life was coming to a close. Cox went to visit Hollingsworth one last time to say goodbye to his good friend, and Hollingsworth asked Cox to do one last thing for him before he passed.
He asked if he would be able to stand guard over his casket and deliver a eulogy. After what they had gone through together, Cox joked that would be a piece of cake, replying: “Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to there.”
Cox and Hollingsworth flew over 200 helicopter missions together during their time in Vietnam. According to the Daily Mail, Cox and Hollingworth ended every phone conversation with the words, “Hollie, you keep ’em flying, and I’ll keep ’em firing.”
At the funeral dressed in Blues, Cox delivered a heartfelt eulogy that concluded with the same sentence: “Hollie, you keep ’em flying, and I’ll keep ’em firing.”
Hollingsworth’s son captured the moment Cox was guarding his father’s casket and shared it on social media. The image has received thousands of likes and plenty of respect for two outstanding veterans who came together in a time of turmoil.